Schmidt a mix of emotions after thrilling Irish win

Joe Schmidt and Warren Gatland share a joke before the game

Joe Schmidt and Warren Gatland share a joke before the game

Johnny Sexton uncharacteristically missed three early kicks at goal, the first a simple chance to trade early penalties with Leigh Halfpenny, although he made up for it with a pinpoint, long skip pass that sent Stockdale in for the opening try.

Ireland stormed ever closer to a Six Nations title showdown with England by dismissing Wales 37-27 in Dublin.

Ireland started the second half with a bang - much like the fireworks that greeted the teams' arrival on the pitch before kick-off - and the increase in intensity brought tries for Dan Leavy and Cian Healy within the first 15 minutes.

Keeping possession for a sustained period of time, flank Aaron Shingler finished off a try for Wales which started all the way back in their own half.

Stockdale's double - taking his tally to eight in seven Tests - book-ended a five-try display from the Irish which also garnered a bonus point as they sneaked their noses over the line against a Welsh side that refused to lie down and at one point had led 13-5. But Wales, who had played well in patches up to that point, were to have another burst at the Irish defence to set up a nervy finish. He's always looking for opportunity and I'm pretty sure the crowd enjoyed it because I heard a hell of a yell when he tapped it.

A strong defence may sound freaky when considering it leaked 27 points, but Ireland tightened up when it mattered.

Chris Farrell with Samson Lee of Wales. "They came back into the game with defending (by us) that could be better".

Ireland defended narrowly and while it allowed Wales some space out wide, they pinched it up the inside and applied their pressure on the Welsh pack from the breakdown.

Schmidt a mix of emotions after thrilling Irish win

The 21-year-old winger, who plays club rugby for Ulster in the Pro14 league, intercepted the ball between the halfway and Wales' 22-metre line after a mislaid pass from substitute Gareth Anscombe, and darted towards the try-line to touch down for the home side. I don't know if you saw it today but Johnny wanted to carry. A sign of a player who firmly believes in the coaching structure as well as his teammates.

But Ireland practice multiple phases with time running down.

England will be a game revolving much more around the sides defence.

Just as half-time dawned Ireland launched another attack.

The Ireland fly-half may have been controlling matters with ball in hand but he didn't look all that comfortable when putting his boot to it, perhaps a symptom of the back injury that caused him to miss part of the captain's run the previous day.

Ireland host Scotland next in two weeks, not having lost a championship match at home in more than five years.

Ireland just need to retain a solid defensive platform, but hold out on silly penalties or loose positioning that cost them points vs. Wales.

"Credit to Joe and the team and the attacking stuff - they are definitely going in the right direction". Murray kicked a penalty for 30-20 and it seemed game over.

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